I recently stumbled upon Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey, and I soon became a bit obsessed with the idea of honing my morning routine. In Daily Rituals, Currey explores how some of the greatest creative minds, from philosophers and writers to painters and composers, went about their daily routines.
For example, my favorite writer Ernest Hemingway cherished his early morning hours.
“…I write every morning as soon after first light as possible. You write until you come to a place where you still have your juice and know what will happen next and you stop and try to live through until the next day when you hit it again. Nothing can hurt you, nothing can happen, nothing means anything until the next day when you do it again. It is the wait until that next day that it is hard to get through.”
I noticed a common thread throughout most of the creative minds featured—each had a certain routine to clear their minds and begin their work, even if their routine was simply insisting against any sort of regimen or doing everything but sitting down to write or paint or compose (which eventually led them to beginning their work).
In public relations, and especially at the Bradford Group, we do an extensive amount of writing for our clients. It can be hard for me to quiet the mind and ready it to write when I’m feeling muddled. I’ve noticed I become settled and stay focused throughout the day if I begin my morning in a semi-structured format.
For me, that means waking up early enough so I can slow down and enjoy the morning before the workday ahead. But even if you prefer to sleep in late, here are five ways to set a daily ritual, especially if you’re in the public relations and writing field.
Set a daily intention.
Your day can become lost or under appreciated if you allow yourself to be consumed with your packed inbox, amount of work to do, meetings to attend, etc. Each day is a fresh start, even though it may not seem like it after a long day or night beforehand. Purposely set one intention or a priority soon after you wake—this can happen over a cup of coffee, during a jog or while stretching out your downward dog—and you’ll notice a clearer day ahead.
At the Bradford Group, we each state our top intention or priority every morning in our group huddle. It not only keeps everyone aware of what we’re working on, but it helps us hold one another accountable and stay focused.
Organize the day.
Just like setting an intention can help focus your day, so can organizing just what needs to get done in the next eight or so hours at work. This may seem understood, but here’s the kicker: Don’t expect to finish an unrealistic bulk of work if you know you can’t. It’ll lead to disappointment and frustration. Realize what things you know you can accomplish, state the necessary tasks to do so, and you’ll be more likely to cross it off your list.
If you write your best in the morning, set an alarm and do it! Personal writing before the workday can help slow your mind and prepare it for the amount of work ahead. If you function best in the morning, take advantage of those early hours. This goes for writing for clients, too. If you prefer writing before tackling the rest of the day’s tasks, set the time necessary and start scheduling your meetings in the afternoons.
It’s important to read good writing outside of industry news, and early morning is the perfect time to do that. Crack open a book with your coffee before you head into work, and it just might keep your thoughts from drifting to your inbox, at least for a few more minutes.
Read some more.
When I arrive to work, one of the first things I do is set aside at least 30 minutes to read the top stories in our clients’ industries. (I love the American Press Institute’s daily Need to Know newsletter on journalism updates, too). Reading the top stories and relevant news of the day keeps us Groupies on our toes and proactively thinking of the next great pitch for our clients.
So, take the time necessary to recognize what helps you create better work throughout the day, whatever your morning preferences may be. It’ll make all the difference—for both you and your clients.